Yousei Teikoku – Hades: The other world Album Review

I am currently in the process of migrating over to a new hosting platform, where I have started a new blog. For now, I will release my posts both here and on the new domain, but soon I will only post over there. So make sure to add the new blog to your bookmarks. 😉 Thank you!

After nearly 20 years of activity and a 2013 effort that alienated many old fans, Hades: The other world sees Yousei Teikoku complete the radical reinvention of their sound and cave a new niche for themselves – but does their new style hold up?

Cover

Elaborate, melodic epics with electronic underpinnings are officially a thing of the past: the new album is a heavier, louder affair than their previous material, relentlessly attacking the listener with a furious mix of guitars, drums and strings. The only glimpses of “classic” Yousei Teikoku you will find on this record are contained in brief, quieter moments hidden between the speed metal and trash metal (amongst others) that now dominate, the previously (even before their last album) released filament, which sticks out like a sore thumb by being closer to Kanon Wakeshima than Dream Theater, and the utterly out of place electronic ballad 糸遊のしたで.

You’d think as a big fan of their older material I would hate such a huge departure in style, but the sheer excellence of the songs on this album makes me embrace it with open arms instead. 神的創造 in particular is one of their most energetic, instantly memorizable tracks yet, ferocious drums, staccato choir and excellent guitar work create a perfect playing ground for the light, agile yet haunting vocals that were always one of this group’s main selling points. What seems ordinary on the surface, like a mere following of trends, quickly turns out to be the genre mix this band always should have played with. It’s positively disquieting in almost every song, retains a layer of uniqueness and allows the band to continue using melodies that are just pop enough to stick in your head while never having to actually create a pop song.

DeaxCrisis impresses with a strong chorus, 覚醒、冱てる魂と運命の境界線 effortlessly moves between moods and all the album’s single releases, filament, Mischievous of Alice and 救世Άργυρóϛ are perfect starting points for new listeners to expand into their body of work from. Even at its weakest, during songs like 愚かな結末, this album never bores or falls too much into a comfort zone. The use of real instruments(rather than the mainly programmed sound they had pre-2012 or so) in particular makes the album a joy to listen to.

But unfortunately, even this great album has two issues that need addressing. The first is the flow, damaged by the inclusion of two songs that will just not work with the songs around them. The latter and much bigger issue is the production quality of the album itself: the loudness war is in full force here, making it impossible to truly enjoy the many layers of the songs. Details seem to not exist, dynamics are minimal – it’s a muddy mess. If this album is ever remastered(which seems unlikely) and the loudness issues are fixed(even less likely), this album could be a milestone, not just in their career, but amongst Japanese hard rock and metal. Easily. But as long as it is presented in this limiting form, I just can’t give this album the recommendation it deserves.

Hades: The other world is a goodbye to their previous career, both symbolically and stylistically. The album cover, showing their singer Yui next to a gravestone reading R.I.P., could not be better chosen. Yousei Teikoku have delivered fantastic, fresh work here, but fail to live up to their full potential by including songs that should not have been included and giving the album an atrocious mastering process. A shame.

I am currently in the process of migrating over to a new hosting platform, where I have started a new blog. For now, I will release my posts both here and on the new domain, but soon I will only post over there. So make sure to add the new blog to your bookmarks. 😉 Thank you!

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